How to Alter Sheets to Fit a Thinner Mattress

Foundations come in two sizes: 9 inch high profile or 5 inch low profile. Just altering your foundation may help you adjust the height of your mattress.

When fitted bed sheets were first introduced they were immediately popular as a great alternative to the flat sheets that had to be tucked under the mattress again and again. Fitted sheets were an obvious alternative and we couldn't believe no one had though of it before.

The sheet sizes were designed to a fit a standard mattress, and in those days, the depth of mattresses varied only by price. Cheap mattresses were thin and good mattresses weren't. The deep plush mattresses and pillow tops we buy today didn't exist back then.

Do you remember the days when you struggled with every ounce of strength you had just to pull that fitted sheet over the last mattress corner? It was not the easiest task but the result was a taut bottom sheet that stayed in place and had a neat appearance. As our search for ever increasing comfort marched on, mattresses changed.

For a time, the pillowtop mattress was a luxury item but the design quickly was adopted by consumers. Manufacturers began producing thicker mattresses and pillowtop versions in mid-price ranges. Suddenly our fitted sheets no longer fit our mattresses. Bedding manufacturers began to add elastic to all sides of the sheet rather than the elasticized corners of the original products.

Fitted sheets were made to work with the thicker mattresses and pillowtop designs and today it can be hard to find a fitted sheet that doesn't advertise itself as suitable for extra thick mattresses.

Changes in Bed Designs

Those deep fitted sheets worked great until mattress sizes started to change again. New technology at NASA introduced memory foam to the marketplace. Advances in inner spring coils resulted in production of thinner mattresses that retained the comfort of the thicker products without the height and weight added to the bed frame.

Today you might notice your fitted sheets no longer fit. Instead of the tight, smooth bedding you've come to expect, you may notice excess fabric that causes folds in the sheet where you sleep and looks loose and sloppy around the edges of your bed.

How to Alter Sheets to Fit a Thinner Mattress

If you sew, you can add a tuck along the edges and sides of a sheet that is too deep to properly fit your mattress. It's an option but not one that is practical for many of us. Of course you can also use the services of a tailor but that can be expensive.

If the sheet size is not too deep you may be able to add sheet suspenders to pull the fabric taut and keep the sheet in place. These suspenders are simple bands of elastic with a clip at each end. By placing the clips on the sheet at both sides of each corner, you can pull the sheet tighter.

If the depth of your mattress is too thin for the sheet suspenders to have much effect, you need a way to tuck the excess depth under the mattress and keep it there. The same elastic that is meant to provide a fitted sheet also allows a too-large sheet to move around on a thinner mattress.

One good solution many consumers recommend are Sheet Snugglers. These are foam corner covers that are added directly onto the corners of your mattress. They are put in place once and do not need to be removed when sheets are changed. The foam adds friction to the corners of the mattress so you can tuck in the excess sheeting and it will stay in place. Once corners are secured it's an easy matter to tuck the excess sheet depth under the mattress on the sides and end.

Watch for New Designs

When mattresses began growing deeper, manufacturers responded by producing sheets with deeper pockets to fit the new deeper bedding. As foam mattresses and new technology once again make thinner mattresses more attractive to consumers, it's expected that bedding producers will provide more size options for fitted sheets.

When deep pocket fitted sheets were introduced, they were pricier than standard products. Today the deep pocket fitted sheet is the norm. It will be interesting to see if new sizes will be at a higher price when they are re-introduced.

Do Some Bargain Shopping

Stores that sell closeouts are designed for bargain shoppers. Many of these outlets are major country-wide chains with buyers that pick up older inventory from large manufacturers and department stores at deep discounts. You may find last years favorite designer blouse for 25% of the original cost or find the fad garden tool that sold everywhere a few months ago at 10% of the initial price.

Many consumers regularly shop these end lot stores because they know the great deals they can find. One of the best ways to find smaller fitted sheets is to search through odd lot and end lot discount stores. The smaller pocket fitted sheets are not much in demand so many stores have dumped their old inventory for whatever price they could get. This could be a real deal for someone who needs to alter sheets to fit a thinner mattress. If you can find some new sheets for sale that are good quality but the older size, it's a perfect solution.

Another possibility is to ask older relatives if they have smaller fitted sheets in their linen closets. People today often discard unused items quickly but our Grandmothers and Great Aunts were raised in a time where you cared for the items you owned and kept them for a long time. Throwing out usable sheets is not something that generation might do even if the sheets are too small to use on the new thicker mattress.


The question of how to alter sheets to fit a thinner mattress is being asked more often today than you might think. At one time the question may have been from someone with an old mattress than was too thick for deep pocket sheets. Today it's the addition of thinner foam mattresses and better innerspring coil technology.

You can alter sheets yourself or hire it done but can also browse end lot discount stores or thrift shops to find the older styles of fitted sheets for thin mattresses that may still be available in high quality sheets at great prices.